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Neovascular glaucoma (NVG) is rare, comprising only 3.9% of all glaucoma cases. The most common cause of NVG is ischaemic central retinal vein occlusion (iCRVO). NVG frequently results in blindness and painful end-stage glaucomatous damage leading to the need for enucleation. Currently, there is no preventive therapy for NVG following iCRVO. Rescue treatments have severe drawbacks. Accordingly, there is a great need for preventing the often visually devastating outcomes of NVG. The STRONG study is designed to test whether the topically active anti-angiogenic agent aganirsen is able to inhibit the formation of neovascularisation leading to the development of secondary NVG in eyes with iCRVO. At the same time, STRONG will provide important information on the natural course of iCRVO and NVG in a large and well-characterised cohort of such patients.
This protocol describes a phase II/III, prospective, randomised, placebo-controlled, double-masked, three-armed multicentre study for the investigation of aganirsen, a new topical treatment for iCRVO in order to prevent NVG. The study will evaluate the efficacy of two different doses of this newly developed antisense oligonucleotide formulated in an eye emulsion to avoid new vessel formation by blocking insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS)-1. This leads to subsequent down-regulation of both angiogenic as well as proinflammatory growth factors such as vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and tumour necrosis factor (TNF). Eligible patients (n = 333) will be treated with topical aganirsen or placebo for a period of 24 weeks. They will also be invited to participate in substudies involving analysis of gonioscopic images, detection of biomarkers for NVG and risk factors for iCRVO.
The STRONG study has the potential to offer a new treatment modality for patients suffering from iCRVO with a high risk of developing NVG. The topical administration can reduce patients’ burden and risk related to rescue treatment, such as destructive laser treatment or enucleation, but requires a high level of patient compliance.